October 4, 2004

Men's Soccer Loses Ivy Opener 2-0 to Penn

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The men’s soccer team’s Ivy League opener against Penn on Saturday was like seeing the world with a new pair of glasses. With only seven games to decide the Ivy League championship, all the high stakes and pressure of league play immediately came into focus. The Red responded to the pressure by raising its game in almost every area and in the end the only thing missing was the result, as Cornell fell 2-0 to the Quakers. The loss put Cornell’s record at 1-7-0 (0-1 Ivy), while Penn improved to 5-2-1 (1-0 Ivy).

“It was a little heartbreaking to be honest,” said senior tri-captain Scott Palguta. “Everybody put in a tremendous effort.”

Playing in front of a vocal alumni-weekend crowd, the first half was marked by equal play between the Red and the Quakers. Cornell’s best chances came off counterattacks built out of the midfield. However, Cornell’s forwards, senior Steve Reuter and sophomore Nick Leonard could find a hole Penn’s organized defense.

Defensively, Cornell’s back four, led by Palguta and his classmate and fellow tri-captain, Peter Lynch, neutralized Penn’s offensive for much of the half. When the Quakers’ did manage a shot, senior goalkeeper David Mahoney was well-positioned to make the save. Cornell finished the first half in a scoreless tie with the Quakers.

“The [team’s] commitment, the energy level, the competitiveness, and the mentality were spot on,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “They know that these Ivy games are our season and so they put everything that they could into that game.”

Just three minutes into the second half, Penn capitalized on a counterattack to go up 1-0 on the Red. The Quaker’s star senior David Maier, cut through Cornell’s midfield and found teammate Arthur Bartholomew who launched a shot on net. Mahoney got a hand on the ball but was not able to keep it out of the net.

“They were most dangerous on the counterattack,” Lynch said. “We were dangerous going at them too, but we just didn’t put one in the back of the net.”

Cornell responded immediately to the Penn goal, pushing play into the Quakers’ half looking for the equalizer. Junior Kuda Wekwete had a shot that sailed just wide in the 52nd minute while Leonard launched a left-footed shot that passed agonizingly close to the post in the 73rd minute.

With 10 minutes remaining in the game, Scales brought in freshman Noah Mencia to put three forwards into the game. However, Penn sealed the game in the 85th minute when Derrick Jumper beat Mahoney near-post from the 18-yard line for the Quakers’ second goal of the night.

“If we scored a goal, the game would’ve looked different tonight, but they got the first one,” Scales said. “We chased and chased and chased in the second half. We missed some chances and then they killed the game off with a second goal.”

The loss puts a great deal of pressure on Cornell’s remaining Ivy League games. The Red will most likely have to win-out the rest of its season to keep its hopes of an Ivy League title alive. Despite the loss, Scales was pleased with the effort of his players.

“I’m proud of the guys. They put it in tonight.” Scales said. “I thought we had good performances across all of the field today and the freshmen I thought adapted to a game of this intensity and this speed.”

Freshmen Jarid Siegel and Aaron Vieira started for the Red, while classmates Mencia, Drew McAleenan, and Evan Smith came on as substitutes. For Seigel, the difference between Ivy League and non-conference games was apparent. However, his feelings about the result remained the same.

“It’s disappointing,” Siegel said. “I hate losing.”

Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Staff Writer